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Google uploads official Contacts and Phone applications to the Play Store


Google has uploaded another two of its internally developed applications to the Play Store for easy updating. This time round we’re looking at Contacts and Phone, which will only work on Nexus, Android One and Google Play Edition devices powered by Marshmallow, but compatibility is expected to expand to other handsets in the near future.

If you don’t possess a currently supported handset, it’s more than likely, you won’t have seen the stock Contacts and Phone apps yet — so be sure to check them out in the gallery below as they could be making their way to your smartphone sometime over the course of the next 12-months.

Play Store Download Link (Google Phone)

Play Store Download Link (Google Contacts)

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LG V10 review: What the LG G4 should’ve been


LG recently released the V10 during the time of the year when we’d normally see the G Pro series get refreshed. It’s safe to say that the V10 is going to replace that line of smartphones, if it does well, considering it’s a larger, more advanced version of the earlier G4.

Unfortunately for the V10, the bigger screen and newer features aren’t that much more advanced than what’s available on the G4. The two biggest additions that are immediately apparent with the newer, more premium design, and the longer screen that extends into a low-power, always-on display to show shortcuts and notifications. Are those additions worth the upgrade over a G4? We’ll find out.


2015 is the year of “premium” smartphones, with more manufacturers than ever adopting higher end materials for their smartphones, and it shows with LG’s latest; the design of the V10 is great. It feels nice, and weighty enough to actually feel like you’re holding an expensive piece of electronics, but not too heavy that it’s cumbersome to hold. The texture on the back of the device has enough of a grip without being uncomfortable, making what I personally think is one of the best designed LG phones to date, even without the leather back that was so popular on the G4.


The front of the device looks nearly identical to the G4, with a slight difference at the top of the phone. On the right side, you’ll find that the front screen extends into the top bezel, creating an always-on ticker display for several different things. It blends seamlessly into the border around the screen, and actually looks really nice and unobtrusive.


On the left side of the top of the device, you’ll find two front-facing cameras that are for the wide-angle selfies that the V10 can take. I’m not sure why LG didn’t do this with software like Samsung does with their 2015 flagships, but it is what it is.



Other than the screen, everything else is typical LG. You’ll find the power button and volume rocker on the back of the device, and the bottom houses the headphone jack and charging port, as well as a speaker.


LG didn’t skimp on the specs here, as the V10 features a 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560×1440) IPS LCD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor, Adreno 418, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for up to an additional 2TB, a 16MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a 3000mAh battery, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.1.


The V10 uses a Snapdragon 808 CPU with 4 GB of RAM, which you can probably guess runs really, really well. Multitasking is a breeze, and there aren’t any games or combinations of apps you can throw at this thing to slow it down. Apps rarely needed to reload unless I was playing games or doing anything particularly RAM intensive, but even then they were pushed back into memory pretty quickly thanks to Qualcomm’s zippy Snapdragon 808.

For most users, you’re looking at a top notch performer. Web browsing and emails aren’t an obstacle for the V10, and even some of the hungrier apps like Facebook still perform extremely well here.


The screen is one of the best on the market, and while it isn’t quite as stunning to look at as some of Samsung’s AMOLED displays, the V10 offers an extremely accurate viewing experience. Colors are very natural, never too warm or too cold. Some people prefer the pop of other colorful devices, but anyone looking for something natural will be happy with the V10. I’m personally a little biased towards Samsung screens, and I was even extremely happy using the V10 day-to-day. Videos and pictures look phenomenal, and you’ll have a hard time finding anything to complain about.

The fingerprint scanner for the V10 is located in the power button on the rear of the phone. For the most part, it works well. Android natively supports fingerprint ID now, and as long as you get your finger on the button, it should quickly recognize your print and unlock your device. Unfortunately, I’m not at all a fan of LG’s power button and volume rocker placements. I also don’t like rear-mounted fingerprint scanners. You can probably guess, this made for a pretty combination for me while using the V10. That’s all personal opinion, and as long as you like LG’s unorthodox button placement and you don’t mind the current trend of fingerprint scanners that aren’t on the face of the device, you should have no complaints using LG’s implementation.

The speakers, like every other device that isn’t an HTC One with BoomSound, are okay. They’re loud, they don’t sound bad, and for casual listening and YouTube videos, you’ll be happy. LG uses a 32-bit hifi DAC in the V10 that offers a better listening experience, but in my testing it seemed like it only worked with LG’s stock music player app. That didn’t help much with videos or streaming from Google Play Music, but if you store your files locally, listen to music through headphones, and like LG’s stock music player, the V10 should give you a clearer sound than the competition.

Battery Life

As efficient as the 808 is, it can’t quite deliver amazing battery life when it has to power two screens, one of which has more pixels than most of our living room televisions. The V10 doesn’t get poor battery life by any stretch, but you’ll probably need to charge it just about every night. My typical heavy usage got me home with around 10% left in the tank, but even backing off a bit and trying to stay off the phone throughout the day couldn’t ever keep it over 50% by bedtime. You won’t need to worry about battery life if you don’t mind charging things every night (and I don’t think most people do), but it’d be nice to squeeze a little more out of that massive 3,000 mAh battery. Fortunately, you can swap the V10’s battery out thanks to its removable back, and it actually charges surprisingly quickly, so even if it dies mid-day you’ll be able to juice it back up in record time.


There’s not much to say about LG’s software if you’ve used a G4 this year. Everything is pretty much identical to the G4, including LG’s blocky, colorful themes and design. Features like Qslide and QuickMemo are all here, as well as LG’s system-level tweaks like being able to change icons on your home screen and rearranging your navigation buttons.

Some of these features are very welcome additions, like the one-handed mode and the notification drawer shortcut to take a screenshot (since pressing the rear power button and volume down button simultaneously is the most unintuitive thing I’ve ever done), and dual-screen modes are always welcome on phones of this size.


Otherwise, LG hasn’t done anything to win over anyone that didn’t like its previous iterations of smartphone software. Icons are big and kind of ugly, half of your notification drawer is eaten up with quick toggles and a screen brightness slider, and most of LG’s apps are bloated with stuff and things. Samsung at least tried to make an effort to curb back some software this year, following HTC and Motorola’s lead, but LG hasn’t taken the hint yet. You can sort of see Material Design shine through on some apps, but overall the apps just aren’t attractive or compelling enough to use over some of the fantastic alternatives you’ll get on the Play Store. Things like Event Pocket in the calendar app, or the needlessly complex and categorized settings menu just don’t do the V10 any favors.

Second Screen

The second screen at the top of the V10’s display is the most compelling argument for picking the device, and it really does offer an experience that’s hard to replicate anywhere else. We’ve seen other OEMs dabble in curved screens that show information on the sides of the device, but the V10 puts its screen where you’ll actually see it.


There are a few different things you can do with it, allowing it to display shortcuts to certain apps or recently used apps. Moving around between sections is as simple as swiping between them, and there’s a media control screen, a calendar view, and you can even set it up to show up to five of your favorite contacts. There’s also a screen that will allow you to display a “signature” at the top of your screen, which is basically just a word or phrase that’s always sitting above your notification bar. Why anyone would want or need that is beyond me, but it’s there if that’s your thing.


While the primary display is off, that secondary screen goes into a low-power, no color mode, showing the time and your notifications. You can swipe it to display shortcuts for changing the volume of your device, turning WiFi on or off, turning a flashlight on or off, or jumping into the camera.


While actually using the phone, the best thing the secondary screen does is display notifications. If you get a text message or a phone call, it shows up on that screen instead of your main display, which keeps from distracting whatever it is you’re doing at the moment. It’s easy to dismiss calls or ignore notifications if they’re not particularly important, and they don’t intrude on the rest of the screen. It’s one of the best things about using the V10, even if it does create some usability problems from how large it makes the phone.



As far as camera performance goes, you’re going to find the same rear camera on both the V10 and the G4. That’s a good thing, as LG makes one of the best cameras on the market that pretty consistently takes good photos. There’s also the entire manual mode that LG heavily promoted with the G4, so if you actually know what you’re doing with a camera you can get the V10 to take some pretty amazing shots. The biggest real drawback to the camera is that it tends to struggle in low light compared to some other flagships, but the manual mode can take care of that almost every time.

LG’s camera interface can be as simple or complicated as you’d like it to be. The manual mode gives you fine-tuned control over just about everything, but the simple mode strips away nearly everything from the screen and lets you snap photos with a single tap. Both options have their place, but I feel like most users are going to like the simple mode more than being bombarded with all kinds of technical options to take pictures. LG takes advantage of the V10’s second screen with some camera options, putting settings and tuning on the extra space above the main interface instead of using up screen real estate, which is nice.


Indoor shots really are the V10’s Achilles’ heel. It loses detail pretty quickly compared to some other high end phones, although someone with a background in photography can work around with this thanks to LG’s manual mode. For the rest of us, though, low-light shots are just okay.

Outdoor shots were fairly accurate, and colors didn’t seem too washed out or too saturated.


Action shots were hit or miss. Moving subjects, like a dog, can be tough to capture without any blur. It’s obviously something that most smartphone cameras struggle with, but I’d hoped LG’s OIS would’ve helped more.


It’s quick to focus otherwise, and pretty consistently turned out great images.


Black levels are very accurate, and the high megapixel count means the V10 captures a ton of detail in its shots.



Should you buy LG’s V10? If you have a G4 (or even a G3, for that matter) then probably not. There isn’t much difference aside from the premium materials and that extra screen. Buying a new back for your G4 takes care of the first problem, and the extra screen at the top of the device doesn’t add too much to the experience as a whole to make it worth dropping the cash on this meager upgrade.

Even if you’re not coming from a newer LG device, it’s hard to recommend the V10 over some of LG’s other available devices, like the G4, simply because a G4 can be found so cheaply now that it isn’t worth spending the extra money here. The battery life is good, and the screen and camera are top notch, but it’s hard to recommend the V10 for anyone that’s not already a huge fan of LG that doesn’t mind an enormous device. If big screens are your thing, and you have to have that removable battery and SD card, though, then the V10 is an extremely compelling option. It’s fast, and the hardware is likely going to stand up to most devices in the next two or three years, assuming LG keeps the software up to date.

If you need a high-end Android phone, you can’t go wrong with the V10. It’s an all around amazing device, checking off almost every box that most people look for in a smartphone. Just make sure the negatives don’t outweigh the positives for you before making a decision.

Come comment on this article: LG V10 review: What the LG G4 should’ve been


HTC extends trade-in offer: turn in an iPhone, get an HTC One A9 for free

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HTC has decided to extend their incredibly popular trade in program all the way through January 7, 2016. The offer received very positive feedback when it was unleashed for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with droves of iPhone owners showing up to swap their Apple device for an HTC One A9. This promotional deal reportedly helped rocket HTC’s year-over-year sales 731% during the holidays — at least according to HTC. 

thumb_htc_one_a9_review__1_of_1_See also: HTC One A9 review58

Since the trade-in was so well received, HTC wants to give as many people as possible the opportunity to take advantage of it. So here is how it works: if you have an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, or iPhone 6S Plus, you can trade it in and get the HTC One A9 for absolutely free. Other devices qualify for the trade-in too, but you’ll have to pay the difference in trade-in value. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, for instance, will get you $200 credit toward the A9, and LG G3’s or G4’s will net you $100. While these are still pretty reasonable trade-in values, the real draw is clearly for iPhone 6 owners.

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If you’re ready to make the swap to Android, HTC is certainly going out of their way to make it easy. This might just be your opportunity. Alternatively, if you want to toss your current Android to get your hands on a gorgeous HTC One A9, this will probably be your best option this year!

Click the button below to visit HTC’s promo site and trade up to the A9.

Trade Up to A9
How does this deal sound to you guys? Worth it or not worth it? Let us know in the comments!


Legislators want to know how VTech handles children’s data

In the days following a surprisingly heinous hack on kiddy-gadget-maker VTech, shock and surprise have given way to pointed curiosity. The latest slew of questions come from Senator Edward J. Markey (D–MA) and Congressman Joe Barton (R–TX), who just issued a letter — that definitely doesn’t double as a PR grab at all — calling on VTech to explain what kind of data they collect from kids under 12 and what they’re actually doing with it. VTech (better known as Hong Kong-based VTech Holdings) has until January 8 to proffer a response, though the company technically doesn’t have to respond at all.



The ‘Star Wars’ VR experience for Google Cardboard is here

The Star Wars hype machine’s rolling at full force. But that shouldn’t surprise you, considering the new film from the world-famous franchise is debuting soon, on December 18th. As part of Disney’s promotional efforts leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, ILMxLAB (Lucasfilm’s, Industrial Light & Magic’s and Skywalker Sound’s immersive entertainment laboratory) has created a virtual reality experience for Google Cardboard. Enter Jakku Spy, a VR project that ties directly into the latest installment of the movie series. The experience, available for iOS and Android, is designed to take you into another reality and put you in the role of a Resistance secret agent on Jakku, a desert environment derived out of The Force Awakens.

Source: App Store, Google Play


Make sweet, sci-fi music with ‘Amplitude’ on PS4 in January

Amplitude blends rhythm gaming with sci-fi spaceship action, and it’s heading to PlayStation 4 on January 5th, for $20 via the PlayStation Store. This is the new, Kickstarted version of Harmonix’s beloved 2002 PlayStation 2 franchise — Amplitude raised $844,127 on Kickstarter in 2014, partially because the crowdfunding cards were stacked in its favor.

Source: Harmonix


Target settles data breach lawsuit with banks for $39 million

Nearly two years after Target’s massive data breach leaked customer payment info, the retailer has reached a settlement with financial institutions. The company agreed to pay $39 million to the likes of MasterCard and banks who filed claims stemming from the 2013 incident. More specifically, Target will pay $20 million to the settlement class and $19 million to MasterCard to fund its Account Data Compromise program that ties into the hack. These figures are in addition to the $10 million settlement that the retail company already agreed to with lawyers for individual victims and its $67 million settlement with Visa.


PayPal, Square and big banking’s war on the sex industry

For nearly a decade, PayPal, JPMorgan Chase, Visa/MasterCard, and now Square, have systematically denied or closed accounts of small businesses, artists, and independent contractors whose business happens to be about sex. These payment processing authorities have also coerced websites to cease featuring sexual content under threat of service withdrawal, all while blaming ambiguous rules or pressure from one another.

Monday a federal appeals court ruled that pressuring credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard to stop doing business with speech-protected websites violates their First Amendment rights. Specifically ones that feature content from sex workers. And in June, the FDIC clarified that it’s against the rules for businesses like PayPal, Chase and Square to refuse business or close accounts based on “high risk” assessments related to human sexuality. But it may not be enough to stop what’s become an unbelievably entrenched pattern of systematic discrimination by payment processors — one that disproportionately denies financial opportunities for women.


Gameloft announces ‘Gods of Rome’, fight to become a legend

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Gameloft puts out more games than I have time in my life to play and enjoy, that doesn’t mean that I don’t give it my best effort. The gaming studio is starting the usual pre-registration phase for another new title that they will be launching entitled Gods of Rome. The basic gist of the title is that all the greatest warrior souls from throughout time have been captured and are now fighting the evil to be free. Your character base includes Zeus, Atlas and Spartacus. There are many others to choose from though. Judging from the release trailer the game looks a bit more like the old school side scrolling fighter style game play along with an online arena to challenge your friends to battle. Take a look at the trailer to get a better look at what it is all about.

I didn’t catch a release date anywhere yet, just the typical ‘coming soon’ verbiage. Gameloft does state it will launch for Android, iOS and Windows though. I will be sure to let you all know when it launches officially. However, if the trailer got you excited, then you should head over to the Gods of War site and pre-register for the game. After all, you can get some exclusives at launch day if you do.

The post Gameloft announces ‘Gods of Rome’, fight to become a legend appeared first on AndroidSPIN.


Google now lets you star and bookmark images you find in Google Image Search

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Looking up pictures of things on Google Image Search is by far the easiest way to scour the web for neat images on a particular topic. But what happens when you need to save the image for later use? Do you take a screenshot, navigate to the webpage and bookmark it, or try downloading the image from the site itself? These are all pretty inconvenient ways to save images on such a convenient service, and now Google is trying to fix that. Google will now allow you to star and bookmark images you find in Google Image Search from your mobile browser.

Let’s say you’re looking for pictures of St. Bernard puppies on your phone’s browser (aren’t they adorable?!). Find one you like? Simply select it and tap the little star button below the photo. This will allow you to easily access the cute puppy picture without the need to do another search. Once you have a few starred images, you’ll be able to organize them into folders. You can do this by tapping the pencil shaped icon and adding each photo to a folder of similar items. Take a look at the illustration below for a better look:

image 2 tags snowmen

Unfortunately this feature is only available on mobile web browsers for now on both Android and iOS devices. It’s also only available for U.S. users, but we’re sure Google will roll it out to more regions in the near future. If you’d like to try it for yourself, just make sure you’re logged into your browser with your Google Account.

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